As with most styles of Chinese martial arts the origins of xingyi quan (aka hsing-i chuan, xing-i, or hsing yi) are shrouded in mystery. This ancient martial art has been said to elongate the life expectancy and purify the morality of its practitioners, as well as greatly improving their self-defense capabilities. Most attribute at least some important role in xingyi's evolution to General Yue Fei , a legendary hero from the Sung Dynasty (circa 1103-1142 ). Although most scholars agree that General Yue did not invent the art, he is often given credit as the founding father as a result of his attempts to promote Hsing I through his military endeavors. Likely the myth of creation is attributed to Yue because it makes for a very nice story. The art is so sophisticated it likely was several generations in evolution to its complete form.
Hsing I utilizes a full range of body motion incorporating strikes from the "Seven Stars"; Hands, Feet, Elbows, Knees, Shoulders, Hips and Head. Also employed are close range Grappling, Throwing, Trapping and Locking techniques, creating a highly adapt able, powerful, and overwhelming style of self defence.
Hsing I's nature is succinct and economical. Due to its predominantly linear pattern of movement, Xingyi appears simple and direct, but it is not easy to master. Often referred to as a 'soft' style or internal martial art, it does not appear as such at first glance. Practitioners must seek to coordinate the motion of their entire body, along with their mind, into one focused action. There is nothing flashy about the style and there are few kicks. Most important is the ability to generate power with the whole body and to focus it into an explosive discharge.
The energy of Hsing I has been described as that of a piece of Rattan. It will not flex very far before snapping back at you. Energetically, the art has a Yang exterior and a Yin interior. The practitioner seeks to create his own openings in attack and defense. It is extremely efficient in its expression of power.